Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Purging Christianity

Why is our observance of Halloween growing? Everywhere I look I’m seeing ghosts and other symbols of death on people’s lawns, on television, in stores, and in most other places I look in mid to late October. Lots of kids walk the streets trick-or-treating, but hardly anyone goes around the neighborhood singing Christmas carols anymore. Halloween is focused on death while Christmas is about birth. All over the country, Americans display images of gravestones, of ever-more-gruesome human cadavers, and other symbols of death. Driving by our local elementary school I saw images of ghosts, but public schools would never depict the Holy Ghost for fear that the American Civil Liberties Union would file expensive lawsuits against them.
Ironically, Halloween is an adaptation of the phrase “All Hallows Eve” celebrated on the last day of October preceding “All Saints Day” which the Catholic Church celebrates the next day, November 1st. And what is a saint? It’s a human soul enjoying everlasting life in the presence of God. Halloween is about permanently-dead human bodies, the more gruesome, the better. Or, it’s about zombies, the temporarily undead. Our obsession with them goes well beyond Halloween. All year we see more and more movies and television programs about zombies. It’s the same with skeletons and skulls. We see them on sneakers, T-shirts, hoodies, school notebooks, key rings, and many other venues.  Clearly our fashion-conscious schoolchildren are choosing them. What’s up with that? Are we getting what we’re encouraging?
It occurs to me now that Halloween preceding All Saints Day is rather like Mardi Gras being  celebrated the night before the Catholic Church begins its observance of Lent. Mardi Gras celebrates excess while Lent is about self-deprivation, but which one does media play up? Not Lent. Fasting is boring. Lent begins with Ash Wednesday, on which day we recognize Catholics by the smudge of ash on their foreheads to remind them that they were created from dust, and to dust they shall return. Until the last day, that is, when Catholics believe they will be raised up - not as zombies - but to everlasting life.
During pagan times, before the Catholic Church became dominant in Europe, my Celtic ancestors practiced “Samhain,” pronounced “sow-in,” in late fall. Bonfires were lit to ward off roaming spirits, thought to be especially prevalent in the time before fall and winter. Days grew much shorter than they do even here in New England and that reminded people of their own inevitable deaths, which most wanted to stave off for as long as possible. In the 8th Century, Pope Gregory adapted a feast honoring saints and martyrs to follow Samhain and lend to it the concept of an afterlife with the Christian God. “All Saints’ Day” on November 1st is still a Catholic holy day on which Catholics are obligated to attend mass, but attendance has grown very thin while Catholic influence on world events continues to wane here in the early 21st century.

From atheism.about.com
Pagan influence is re-asserting itself as government outlaws historical Christian associations with traditional holidays, while tacitly approving pagan associations like ghosts and zombies at Halloween and winter solstice activities rather than mentions of Christ at Christmas time. It’s not Christmas vacation anymore in our schools. It’s “winter holiday.”

When I was still teaching US History and Thanksgiving approached, I’d ask my students: “To whom were Pilgrims giving thanks on the first Thanksgiving?”

“Indians,” they all said.

When I asked where they got that idea, they said they learned it from their teachers in the lower grades. Pilgrims gave thanks to God on the first Thanksgiving, of course, but our government - and our government schools - endeavor to disassociate God from any public activity whenever possible. Hence, schools are encouraged to teach our children that Pilgrims were thanking Indians on the first Thanksgiving. It isn’t true, but it is politically correct - and that’s vastly more important than truth for our government here in the 21st century.

Conservative Christianity, and especially the Roman Catholic Church, is about as politically incorrect as it gets.


Jean D. said...

As I drive or walk through family neighborhoods in San Diego it sickens me to see the lawns strewn with plastic grave markers, skeletons,ghosts and all the junk China gleefully produces for the stupid americans year after year.The fall season is a time of beauty, I only wish families would emphasis and nurture fond memories for their easily influenced children. Selling fear & death creates anxiety in kids,they act out because they're not equipped to express it.

Andrew said...

I guess it is that time of year again when all those who have chosen to believe the story of Christianity start whining and grumping that everybody else doesn't share their beliefs, and why public areas don't pick THEIR story to display.

You want to believe that story, fine. If you want to believe that a giant donkey created the world, fine. Don't try to force it on others though.

Frostproof said...

Jean D: Before China produced that junk, it was made here at home - kiss those jobs bye-bye. More fear & death is sold in a minute by rap "culture" than in a year by Halloween exploiters.

Andrew: I don't believe the world was created by a giant donkey, but I do believe our country is run by a colossal horse's ass. But I would never dream of forcing you to accept my belief, as is done by zealots who demand removing a cross from private property because it's visible by some atheist true believers.

Andrew said...

I agree, nobody should be forced to remove a cross from their yard. The only case I saw of this was an instance in which a zoning ordinance was changed so a man could keep displaying his cross.

As far as fear and death go, what is up with trying to scare people into being good by the threat of hellfire?

Greg Benton said...

Right on target Tom. It is also amusing to notice in that 'atheism' poster that the creators of that are idiots. "Keep Christ out of 'X'" is impossible. The letter 'X' is Chi, the first letter of the word 'Christos' in Greek. 'Xmas' means Christmas...not 'exmus'. The use of Chi and Rho, the first two letters for Christos, is common in the Church.

Unknown said...

I don't think many children look at Halloween as evil or death like. However I do think that our society has become obsessed with the occult and with zombies. All of this because prayer was removed from schools, the word Christmas being censored and similar anti Christian political correctness.

William Rombola said...

And the "War on Halloween" kicks off early this year.

Instead of blaming pagans, atheists, and Halloween for the decline in Christmas spirit, why not point to the true culprit, rampant commercialization. I'd add that this plague has all but turned Thanksgiving into a afterthought as retailers rush to get a jump on the buying season.

Besides, Christmas is only celebrated on December 25th because a Roman leader decided to declare it to be the day of our saviors birth. He did this because pagans were already celebrating Saturnalia on this day and wisely decided to slowly supplant the old celebration with a new one.

Why not quit whining that pagans have one day a year to celebrate and be thankful that they haven't decided to reclaim Saturnalia as well.

Merry Christmas.

Anonymous said...

All depends on what you want to be afraid of.

Eric said...

Tom, would you get upset with the ACLU for trying to stop a public school from putting up religious Muslim decorations as a celebration?

Henry said...

"Catholic influence on world events continues to wane here in the early 21st century."

Thank God!

Australia Business News said...

Welp, these holidays are made for people to go shopping anyway.

Lynn said...

Catholic influence AND Tea Party influence waning.....a wonderful thing!!!

Bring on being good to others simply because it is the right thing to do and forget about the threat of eternal damnation and the church trying to dictate their preferences.

A person could leave a life helping others and doing no harm, yet he is cursed with damnation because he doesn't "accept" your god?????


Greg Benton said...

So Lynn welcomes the new secular culture of 'doing good to others because it's the right thing to do' without appreciating that those who now determine what is 'good' and what is 'right' are the politically-charged courts; the new high priests of secularism.

The moral code of western culture wasn't formulated through a series of workshops overseen by government bureaucrats bound to Jonathan Livingston Seagull and his disciples.

Ours is a society built on the legal, social and ethical foundation of Biblical historical tradition and it is the abandonment of this foundation that is at the heart of the transformation of America and much of the western world.

The purging of visible symbols and the audible expression of the Judaeo-Christian tradition is a reflection of a deeper malaise: the weakening of individual liberty whose roots are in those deeply embedded rights whose seed was planted, nurtured and blossomed from within Christian Civilisation.

The generational abandonment of once-accepted religious rituals and celebrations and the morphing of these into hollow facsimiles is a reflection of both the shallowness of popular culture in rapture with commercialism but of the collective soul of the people.

'E Pluribus Unum' has been replaced by competing fractious and divisive 'minorities' all scrambling for their own self-interest and exclusivity that are claimed as 'rights' but inherently are the opposite. They are void of the pursuit of the common good and designed to limit the dignity of the individual person.

The same is happening, perhaps even more dramatically, in Britain where the agents of the state have 'purged' this same Biblical foundation and Christian tradition not only in the streets but in the law itself; mostly to accomodate the enormous influx of Muslim immigrants and their demand to be 'separate' from rest of British society and be governed by their own 'Sharia' law and courts; all the while demanding that the society that affords them a home and freedom remove its 'offensive' Christian symbols.

America's recent transformation is different but not completly dissimilar. What is 'foreign' to the foundation of American culture and society comes not from across the oceans but from within the village square and the highly financed and organised ideological cells operating, sometimes in the guise of a smile, by stealth.

It will take some credible, and powerful counter-revolutionary strength to withstand the threat. I fear that it might be too late.

Tom McLaughlin said...

Thanks Greg, for another thoughtful comment.

I understand your fear, but choose to be optimistic in spite of the evidence.

Greg Benton said...

You're quite right to not despair Tom. Our Faith teaches us to keep our eye on the Day of Resurrection where all the former things pass away and all things are made new.

My sadness is simply the harm caused to so many and that will apparently endure for some time. There's nothing new in this in history, of course. It is the insidious nature of the degradation of culture that is alarming.

It will take some courage for those who come after us to stand their ground. I may not be immediately optimistic, but ultimately I am. Still, the ultimate looks to be a long way away.

Tom McLaughlin said...

I was talking to a young professional the other day. We were both peeling logs with which to build an addition onto my daughter's house, she with the four children four and under. It's a log cabin.

He is a physicist from the Boston area and very bright. Has a vacation home in my area and is friendly with my son-in-law. Very smart and a good guy. Our discussion ranged far and wide. He said he and his wife had no children yet, and he wasn't sure if he wanted to bring any into this world as it is. We had been discussing the state of the world in some detail.

I had witnessed to him in a non-evangelical way that I saw the Divine as a major dynamic in whatever turn the world may take and he was silent about it. We continued peeling logs. Perhaps we'll work together again.

If we do, I'll point out that what we're doing - peeling logs - is a sign of hope in the future. My grandchildren are too and we're building the wing for them. I'll also confide that the way I see the universe is not limited by what the laws of physics can define, explain, or even perceive. That's all I'll say unless he responds to it.

Then I'll let the Creator do with that what He will.

Anonymous said...

Tom, this is no accident. It has been planned for a long time. I only ask you keep an open mind and follow the link....heres a sample:

"Basically, the [task of the] Frankfurt School was to undermine the Judaeo-Christian legacy. To do this they called for the most negative destructive criticism possible of every sphere of life which would be designed to de-stabilize society and bring down what they saw as the 'oppressive' order.

Their policies, they hoped, would spread like a virus--'continuing the work of the Western Marxists by other means' as one of their members noted.

To further the advance of their 'quiet' cultural revolution - but giving us no ideas about their plans for the future - the School recommended (among other things):

1. The creation of racism offences.
2. Continual change to create confusion
3. The teaching of sex and homosexuality to children
4. The undermining of schools' and teachers' authority
5. Huge immigration to destroy identity.
6. The promotion of excessive drinking
7. Emptying of churches
8. An unreliable legal system with bias against victims of crime
9. Dependency on the state or state benefits
10. Control and dumbing down of media
11. Encouraging the breakdown of the family

One of the main ideas of the Frankfurt School was to exploit Freud's idea of 'pansexualism' - the search for pleasure, the exploitation of the differences between the sexes, the overthrowing of traditional relationships between men and women. To further their aims they would:

• attack the authority of the father, deny the specific roles of father and mother, and wrest away from families their rights as primary educators of their children.

• abolish differences in the education of boys and girls

• abolish all forms of male dominance - hence the presence of women in the armed forces

• declare women to be an 'oppressed class' and men as 'oppressors'

Continued at


Mike Hein said...

Conservative (Missouri Synod) Lutherans observe Ash Wednesday with the adornment of ash smudged upon one's forehead during church services on that day, too (not just Catholics), and for the same reasons.

My guess is other 'high church' denominations (Anglicans, Presbyterians, etc.) also observe Ash Wednesday in a similar fashion.